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CGD in the News

FT Health: Foreign aid and the threat to multilateralism (Financial Times)

April 18, 2019

From the article:

At a time of rising populism and questions over the value of foreign aid, a new analysis suggests Britain’s contributions are largely well spent — especially the share channelled directly by its international development agency.

The Center for Global Development think-tank concludes that nearly four-fifths of the £28bn donated via the British government over eight years was spent well or satisfactorily. It was reviewing 65 individual assessments by the Independent Commission on Aid Impact, a UK watchdog.

While most of the money goes via the Department for International Development, other agencies were less well rated. In particular, spending via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office — which some ministers are keen to have take back direct control of Dfid — performed worst, with some disbursements possibly not even meeting the legal definition of aid.

There is no room for complacency. A previous analysis by CGD highlighted that some other countries — and multilateral institutions — perform better than the UK when considering factors such as efficiency, transparency and fostering institutions. New Zealand and Denmark ranked particularly well, although high quality was offset by a relatively low quantity of aid. The US, which gives generously, scores poorly, notably because much remains “tied” or linked to its own interests.

But as the World Bank heads into new leadership by a man highly critical of multilateralism, and with public opinion febrile, constructive criticism should not trump the benefits aid can bring.

Related Experts

Ian Mitchell
Co-Director of Development Cooperation in Europe and Senior Policy Fellow